RV Roof Leaks: Understanding the Most Common Causes of Roof Damage

When your RV is new, you have few things to worry about other than basic maintenance. You want to wash and wax it regularly to protect the paint job. You want to have the oil changed regularly to ensure the engine is protected. You want to change the air filter when necessary to improve fuel economy. You’ll invest in air conditioner maintenance, tire maintenance and the like. However, over time, other problems will develop, including roof leaks. What are the most common causes or RV roof leaks? What leads to this type of damage?

Physical Damage

One reason for a roof leak is physical damage. This can be from any number of things, but is often caused by falling tree branches when parked under trees in a campground or RV park. While a branch may not punch a hole through the roof on impact, it may cause enough damage that the roof is dimpled, which can lead to ponding water. This is detrimental to many types of RV roofing material.

Age-Related Shrinkage

RV roofs must put up with a lot of stress and strain not found with other types of roofs, such as that on your home. You have heat-related flexion, but you also need to account for sheering forces such as during turns while driving. Because of this, roofing materials must be flexible. However, over time, most materials will lose a lot of their flexibility. This makes them brittle, but it also causes them to shrink. One of the most common areas to notice shrinkage is around the seams.

Lack of Maintenance

Failure to maintain your roof properly can lead to leaks, as well. For instance, RV roof leaks may be caused by not resealing your roof when it is time, or from neglecting to inspect and repair damage after a storm. Ideally, you should inspect your RV’s roof at least twice per year – once in the spring when getting it out of storage, and then again in fall before you put it away for the year. Be prepared to handle any needed repairs during these inspection periods, and you will have less to worry about in the way of surprise RV roof leaks. In addition to inspecting the roof itself, you should also inspect the interior of the RV for signs of water intrusion, as well as the exterior siding for signs of bubbling or waves.

RV Roof Leaks

RV Roof Leaks

Not Maintaining Existing Seals

The roof of your RV is not solid. There are a number of protrusions – the air conditioning unit is mounted to the roof. You have several vents, and vent pipes protruding, as well. Each of those is a potential leak. Ideally, caulk and flashing around vents and AC units will help to prevent leaks, but those will deteriorate over time and if damaged. During your annual inspection, make it a priority to check all existing seals for flexibility and damage. If you notice that caulk is missing in some areas, has become brittle, or that flashing is damaged or missing, repair it quickly to prevent damage.

How to Prevent RV Roof Leaks

In most cases, preventing RV roof leaks is simple. You just need to reapply the EPDM rubber coating on top of your roof periodically. This can be done in just a few hours, and requires nothing more than a few basic tools. Of course, you can also hire a professional to handle it for you, and if you are not able to get on top of your RV to do the work, or you’re worried about safety should you get on the roof, then hiring a professional is the better option.